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Derby King out for more classic success - NZ Racing Desk

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

It’s no secret that wily Cambridge trainer Murray Baker loves a staying contest.

The veteran Kiwi horseman, who trains in partnership with Andrew Forsman, will be in search of a fifth Gr.1 Australian Derby (2400m) when Quick Thinker represents the stable in the three-year-old classic on Saturday.

The son of So You Think won last Saturday’s Gr.2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) and Baker said reports from his son Bjorn, who is overseeing the colt’s preparation under the unique Covid-19 restrictions, were very positive.

"We’re very happy with him," Baker said. "He has got to get the trip and whether he has got the class against those better three-year-olds is a bit of a question, but he certainly deserves his place in the field.

"He comes from the family of a Derby winner and an Oaks winner, so that gives me a bit more confidence," Baker said, referring to 1999 Gr.1 VRC Derby (2500m) winner Blackfriars, who along with 2003 Gr.1 South Australian Oaks (2500m) heroine Larrocha, feature in Quick Thinker’s pedigree.

Baker has won the Australian Derby on four occasions with Nom du Jeu (2008), Dundeel (2013), Mongolian Khan (2015) and Jon Snow (2017) all successful, with the latter two in partnership with Forsman.

"The 2400m at Randwick is pretty testing, but he is fit enough and a rain-affected track won’t worry him," Baker said.

Six-time Group One winner Dundeel remains the best horse the Hall Of Fame trainer has prepared and Baker identified Dundeel’s son Castelvecchio as one of the key horses to beat.

"He is a very talented horse Castelvecchio and he should be well suited. I also have respect for Tony Pike’s horse (Sherwood Forest) as I think he is a real stayer and can run the trip but there are a few smart ones in the race.

"We were stabled with Castelvecchio in Melbourne in the spring and I had a good look at him. He is a very nice horse with a lot of class and reminds me a lot of the old man."

The links to the race rival don’t end there, with Castelvecchio’s trainer Richard Litt, originally from Taranaki, a former Baker employee.

"Richard Litt used to work for me and it is nice to see what he has achieved," Baker said.

With James McDonald, who rode Quick Thinker to victory last week, committed to Castelvecchio, Baker said he was pleased to have an able replacement in Opie Bosson, who won the race on the stable’s outstanding stayer Mongolian Khan in 2015.

Baker and Forsman will also have The Chosen One racing on Saturday in the Gr.2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m) as a final lead-up to next week’s Gr.1 Sydney Cup (3200m).

Twelve months ago the son of Savabeel finished fourth in the Australian Derby, while stablemate Madison County was runner-up in the race won by Angel Of Truth.

"The Chosen One didn’t have much luck in the Derby last year," Baker said. "He drew the outside barrier and got pushed back to last and ran home well. He came out and won the Frank Packer Plate (Gr.3, 2000m) very easily at his next start.

"He is improving all the time and worked extremely well on Tuesday. The track is a concern as he doesn’t want it too wet.

"It was a much better run last start and perhaps he was in the slow lane out there. It wasn’t as quick as the inside.

"We’d want him to run a good race heading towards the Sydney Cup and he seems to like Randwick."

James McDonald will ride The Chosen One this weekend, who will carry 57kgs in the 15 horse field, but drops to 53.5kgs in next week’s Sydney Cup.

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